Dr. Greg's Blog




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The Art of Sharing - 17 December 2015


For the past two weeks we have begun to do study groups with the children at the new orphanage in Mabugini,. Since it is a long way to reach there by bad roads, we have decided to take our teaching teams out late on afternoons to teach an evening session. Then they stay over night and do another session in the morning before braving the long bumpy roads home. Since there are forty new orphans out there and they are all thirsty for knowledge we had to instantly find teachers who could help Shannon since she cannot do the work alone. My job has been to keep things organized and to cover the cost of providing the lessons. Our timing could not have been better. The Form Four students from the Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre who just finished their national exams have all left the orphanage to live with relatives. Since they have months to wait until they obtain their exam results, they were excited to join us and help teach because it gives them experience doing that and allows them to share all that they have learned over the years. The kids from KOC all have the advantage of having had tremendous English exposure since many visitors have come through the orphanage over the years. Passing the skills they have learned to children less fortunate than themselves has made all of them happy. They tell me that they really like the kids at this orphanage because they remind them of themselves when they were younger. They remember the days when there was no running water and no electricity as is the current state of this orphanage.


But the Mabugini orphanage is on the verge of fixing many of the things that currently set them back. They have a new building that meets code for housing orphans with the exception of needing ceilings that conceal the roof. There is a potential donor who might fix this problem. Their other needs are a good source of water and electricity. Both of these are on the horizon. TANESCO, the national electric company, has promised to get them hooked into the power grid. The materials for the power hook up have even been delivered to the area, but we are still waiting. Pastor Simion haunts the offices of TANESCO every week prodding and cajoling them to do their jobs. That is just the way things go here. And there is a proposal that has been submitted to drill a bore hole and we hope that decision will be positive. Presently there is a superficial well that provides brackish water usable for some things, but drinking water must be obtained from far away. Children take turns riding the one bicycle the mile to the water center where they pay their hundred shillings and haul back three buckets of water to add to the holding barrels. It is a job repeated many times each day. Later in the year when the local water dries up, they will have to ride over 3 miles to get not so good water from the river. So it is easy to see the importance of a good water source. Good planning has gone into this site as there are already good toilets and a septic system.


While our young scholar/teachers gain much needed experience, they are unaware that they have the benefit of many unseen supporters. We have friends in California who donated a large number of Therma-rest pads for use by children here in East Africa. The story of how the pads arrived here was remarkable in itself. A lady carried all of them in a huge duffle bag and walked through customs in Dar es Salaam with not a question asked. She then flew to Kilimanjaro International Airport on her way to Arusha. We went to the airport to meet her and did the transfer there. The lady was so happy to no longer have to carry that huge bundle of mats anymore! But we have found them ideal since they can be transported to the new orphanage easily and they make a great resting place for the night. The orphanage has only a limited number of beds so having the ability to make our own children ready for night is really a good thing. All of the kids say they are quite comfortable. The one thing they do complain about though is waking up to find themselves confronted by scorpions when they go to the bathroom. But eventually the power of illumination should solve that issue.


Our young teachers also benefitted from a lucky incident last summer. The forty children almost got to have no schooling this year. On our first visit there we were accompanied from Moshi by a new volunteer. While we were at the orphanage, children of all ages kept dribbling back to the grounds from school. Apparently they were sent home because they had not paid the necessary fees to obtain their free education. This volunteer went back to town, got on the internet and within 72 hours rallied her friends to get all of the money needed to get each child back in school. Daniel and I paid the fees and we did so slowly and carefully. We did not give the schools all of their money at once because we wanted to form a relationship with the teachers and make them understand that they had been unwittingly punishing orphans. By the time the last bill was paid we had earned their trust and respect. Some of them admitted that they never expected to see any money from these poor children and the experience of getting paid taught them lessons of faith and trust. On our first visit there many were a bit sullen and impolite. Now they smile and greet us warmly. Faith and trust are good lessons to learn at any age! I will defend these teachers though because some of them work long hours and their pay checks from the government are always a chancy event. Sometimes these teachers must wait three or more months to get their pay checks.


I am thrilled to see the way the older children who are functioning as teachers have stepped into this role with pride and enthusiasm. I have always loved the way people can rally to one another in Africa and this has been an outstanding example for me. Imagine being excited to plan your whole week around getting to ride on terrible roads to sleep on mats on the ground in a place with no electricity or running water! I am humbled by such altruism!


Best wishes,


Greg Higgins

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